EXPLAINED: How states across Germany are relaxing Covid rules

Indoor dining, tourism, sports: in some federal states, new relaxations are coming into force or will soon. Here's a look at some of the rule changes happening across Germany.

EXPLAINED: How states across Germany are relaxing Covid rules
An employee making a bed in a Hamburg hotel. Hotels opened in Hamburg on June 1st. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Reinhardt

Across Germany, Covid numbers have been falling, allowing cities and districts to start reopening after months of shutdown.

Although states have been required to follow the nationwide ’emergency brake’ rules that prescribe for measures to be tightened when Covid cases rise, regions have been going their own way with reopening road plans. 

Here’s a look at the recent or upcoming changes from some of Germany’s 16 states. 

READ ALSO: When (and how) German states will relax Covid restrictions


In Hamburg, indoor dining in restaurants, cafes and bars is allowed to open starting this weekend, Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) announced on Tuesday in view of falling Covid numbers.

But keep in mind that there are stricter regulations for indoor dining than for outdoors. For example guests have to provide a recent negative Covid test,  proof of completed vaccination or recovery from coronavirus. 

Private gatherings are still limited to five people, though they may now come from more than two households.

Under a nationwide regulation, Covid-recovered and fully vaccinated people have not faced contact restrictions since May 9th. This applies throughout Germany. 

What else has been changing in Hamburg?

In Hamburg, tourists are allowed to stay overnight again in hotels and other holiday accommodation from Tuesday. For the time being, however, hotels are only allowed to operate at 60 percent of their capacity. There are also strict regulations such as mandatory Covid testing. 

City and harbour tours can also take place again. 

READ ALSO: IN PHOTOS: How Germany is reopening after more than six months of Covid shutdown

There are further relaxations in the area of sports: 20 adults are allowed to exercise together outdoors, and a max of 10 people can take part in non-contact sports indoors after a negative test is presented.

Tested, Covid-recovered and fully vaccinated people are also allowed to exercise in gyms or visit yoga studios, although only one person per 10  square meters of space  can be admitted.

Children are allowed to use gyms and sports fields without limits on numbers, and coronavirus testing.

Sporting events can be held with up to 650 spectators.

Hamburg will look to ease more rules from June 10th. Hamburg, which brought in ’emergency brake’ measures including a curfew ahead of many other parts of Germany, has seen a huge drop in cases in recent weeks.


Due to the sharp drop in the number of infections, Berlin is also relaxing a number of Covid rules earlier than planned, mayor Michael Müller (SPD) announced on Tuesday.

Under the new plans, restaurants in Berlin can open their indoor spaces from Friday June 4th, with a mandatory testing requirement. Negative Covid tests are no longer needed for outdoor terraces and shopping.

There are also plans to allow larger outdoor and indoor events again with restrictions. 

Private meetings will be permitted with more people. Up to six people from three households will then be allowed to meet indoors, and up to ten people from five households outdoors (excluding under 14s).

As of June 11th, hotels in Berlin will be allowed to accept tourists again. There will be no occupancy limits, but hygiene plans will apply. The hotel reopening date has been coordinated with neighbouring Brandenburg.

READ ALSO: Indoor dining and gyms: How Berlin’s new eased Covid rules affect you


The Rhineland-Palatinate state government is easing coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday, state premier Malu Dreyer (SPD) announced.

Under the new rules, outdoor swimming pools and amusement parks can reopen with conditions. Cultural events can also take place indoors with a maximum of 100 people, plus restrictions.

Visits to the outdoor areas of restaurants will be allowed with a negative rapid test. Beer gardens and forest huts (Pfälzerwald-Hütten) are also allowed to reopen. 

Congregational singing is again allowed at outdoor church services, and smaller ensembles can perform and sing in church halls.

In future, private contacts will be limited to five people regardless of the number of households. Vaccinated, recovered people and children up to 14 will not be counted in these rules.

“We’re already taking a very big step today,” Dreyer said on Tuesday, adding that it was “much further than we originally thought we would in our perspective plan.”


Coronavirus rules are changing in this state on Wednesday.

The easing of rules applies to districts and cities that have registered fewer than 35 infections per week per 100,000 residents for at least five days – even if those five days began before the new rules took effect. The amended regulation is to be in effect until the end of June; however, if the infection situation continues to improve, it could be further relaxed.

Contact rules: People are allowed to meet up to 10 other people, regardless of the number of households.

Guests enjoying beer in Wernigerode, Saxony-Anhalt on May 30th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

Travel: Youth hostels and vacation camps can reopen. And bus trips and city tours are also allowed again with mask requirements.

Restaurants and shops: Outdoor dining in restaurants is again allowed without testing. Indoor areas are still subject to mandatory testing.

The curfew in restaurants until 10pm is being lifted. Retailers will no longer be required to document customer contact information.

Schools: The basic phased plan for opening schools remains in place. According to the plan, the first schools already restarted regular operations on Monday, and all schools in the state are expected to be teaching all children in classrooms again by next week at the latest.

Events: Professionally organised events such as weddings, or graduation ceremonies are again allowed to have up to 100 people inside, with testing and contact tracking. Outdoors, up to 250 guests can attend. The limit of 30 people for wedding ceremonies and funeral services is being lifted.

Sports: In outdoor pools, Covid testing is no longer required; in indoor pools, testing remains a prerequisite for attendance. In sports clubs, the previous testing requirement has been dropped.

Culture: Choir and band rehearsals are allowed again. Theatres, cinemas and similar cultural events can allow up to 250 guests indoors and up to 500 outdoors.

READ ALSO: Germans return to pools and beer gardens as some Covid curbs lifted


As of Friday, the obligation to be tested for coronavirus before entering shops will no longer apply in Germany’s smallest state, Saarland.

From then on, contact sports indoors are also possible with a Covid test, the state announced on Tuesday.

A total of five people can meet again in private regardless of the number of households.

From June 11th, the test obligation for outdoor dining will be lifted.

The state government wants to present a concept for further relaxations in sports, culture and private events, it said.

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Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

It’s back again: amid sinking temperatures, the incidence of Covid-19 has been slowly rising in Germany. But is this enough to merit worrying about the virus?

Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

More people donning face masks in supermarkets, friends cancelling plans last minute due to getting sick with Covid-19. We might have seen some of those familiar reminders recently that the coronavirus is still around, but could there really be a resurgence of the virus like we experienced during the pandemic years?

According to virologists, the answer seems to be ‘maybe’: since July, the number of people newly infected with Covid-19 has been slowly rising from a very low level.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), nine people per 100,000 inhabitants became newly infected in Germany last week. A year ago, there were only around 270 reported cases.

Various Corona variants are currently on the loose in the country. According to the RKI,  the EG.5 (also called Eris) and XBB.1.16 lines were each detected in the week ending September 3rd with a share of just under 23 percent. 

The highly mutated variant BA.2.86 (Pirola), which is currently under observation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), also arrived in the country this week, according to RKI. 

High number of unreported case

The RKI epidemiologists also warned about a high number of unreported cases since hardly any testing is done. They pointed out that almost half of all registered sewage treatment plants report an increasing viral load in wastewater tests.

The number of hospital admissions has also increased slightly, but are still a far cry from the occupation rate amid the pandemic. Last week it was two per 100,000 inhabitants. In the intensive care units, only 1.2 percent of all beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Still, a good three-quarters (76.4 percent) of people in Germany have been vaccinated at least twice and thus have basic immunity, reported RKI. 

Since Monday, doctors’ offices have been vaccinating with the adapted vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer, available to anyone over 12 years old, with a vaccine for small children set to be released the following week and one for those between 5 and 11 to come out October 2nd.

But Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has so far only recommended that people over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions get vaccinated.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who should get a Covid jab this autumn in Germany?

“The pandemic is over, the virus remains,” he said. “We cannot predict the course of coming waves of corona, but it is clear that older people and people with pre-existing conditions remain at higher risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19”

The RKI also recommended that people with a cold voluntarily wear a mask. Anyone exhibiting cough, cold, sore throat or other symptoms of a respiratory illness should voluntarily stay at home for three to five days and take regular corona self-tests. 

However, further measures such as contact restrictions are not necessary, he said.

One of many diseases

As of this autumn, Covid-19 could be one of many respiratory diseases. As with influenza, there are no longer absolute infection figures for coronavirus.

Saarbrücken pharmacist Thorsten Lehr told German broadcaster ZDF that self-protection through vaccinations, wearing a mask and getting tested when symptoms appear are prerequisites for surviving the Covid autumn well. 

Only a new, more aggressive mutation could completely turn the game around, he added.

On April 7th of this year, Germany removed the last of its over two-year long coronavirus restrictions, including mask-wearing in some public places.

READ ALSO: German doctors recommend Covid-19 self-tests amid new variant